On February 9, 2011, Judge Susan Brnovich declared a mistrial in the case against Kelley when the jury failed to reach a verdict. Although it is uncertain how many jurors were not convinced of Kelley's guilt and why, the facts show that the jurors who heard and deliberated the case were all white.
The murder of Varela can be attributed to a variety of causes: the anxiety and fulfillment that Kelley may have felt based on the mandates and outcries made by public officials who advocated fear and intolerance towards immigrants; the racist and nativist beliefs that Kelley probably held against Varela as a perceived foreigner in this country; and the entitlement Kelley may have believed he had to murder Varela because of the ambiguity that continues to surround the racial/ethnic classification of Latinos. Separately, each of these rationales is plausible in explaining Kelley's motive to murder his innocent, Mexican-American neighbor. Yet, as separate and distinct rationales, their ability to explain the murder of Varela suffers. Therefore, a framework - the authoritarian perspective - in which all three theories of racism, nativism, and the black/white binary combine and work together helps us to understand events such as Varela's murder.
This overlapping theoretical approach allows us to see that Latinos are the victims of a society that permits them to be erased by minimizing the impact of racism, nativism, and the black/white binary that, most of the time, we prefer to ignore. Without a deeper and more nuanced examination of the treatment of Latinos by the dominant society, the Latino community will continue to suffer erasure. Latinos will remain nowhere in sight.
. B.A., University of California, Riverside (2008); Seattle University School of Law, J.D. expected 2012.
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